Yesterday, I wrote with a sense of urgency, about the need for Americans to start questioning their materialistic excesses. And I advocated in no uncertain terms, for a shift in individual behaviors. Not everybody agrees. Last month I attended an E2 presentation by Rick Duke, Director of Center for Innovation at NRDC, and also ex-McKinsey consultant. The topic was a recent McKinsey report on ‘Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?‘. The ground-breaking study was co-sponsored by a group of environmental and corporate heavy weights: NRDC, DTE Energy, Environmental Defense, Honeywell, National Grid, PG&E, and Shell. From E2:
What the E2 summary does not cover, is the point Rick Duke made during his presentation about Americans not needing to make sacrifices in their way of life. This assumes the U.S. implement the policies recommended in the McKinsey report. The sigh of relief in the audience was palpable. You mean, I can keep going. The powers in charge will take care of things? Peter Waldman, also present during the presentation, protested that policy innovation was no substitute for some of the hard choices citizens ought to make. Choices such as driving less and consuming less.
Rick Duke‘s answer: sure, it’s great if people green their lifestyles, but what are the odds? In the mean time, let us forge ahead with policy innovation. I agree with him, and I also want to point the danger of his concurrent message. We cannot afford the luxury of ignoring the role of individual behaviors. It will take all, policy makers, businesses, and citizens, to reach a carbon neutral state.